When these factors come up long before opening day, you just know that it's going to be a "good" hunting season.
There's that old saying, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry," basically meaning no matter how much we plan, get ready for, and attempt to alleviate all the factors that will keep us from our hunting goals, things happen that we cannot control.
And sometimes they're hilarious.
We get trail camera pictures of deer's ears, their rumps, and nothing but their lips just to let us know that nature has a sense of humor and it doesn't care who's looking through the crosshairs. We see turkeys during deer season, and we see deer during turkey season in the same woods and fields. We can only laugh.
Luckily for us as hunters, we seem to have educated ourselves to the point where we can mitigate some of these odd things and sometimes even make them work in our favor.
But when that doesn't happen we can either learn from it or be owned by it, our choice.
Hunting seasons have changed over the years, but when we see raccoons and opossums instead of deer and wild turkey, and the furbearers seem to outnumber the small game animals, it's time to change gears and find a way to deal with it.
Good luck with that.
Let's explore some of the head slapping moments that we have as hunters, and help everyone see why they are and aren't such a big deal.
We've been watching the season dates as they get closer and closer, and we already have our big game hunting licenses, so why do we still feel like things could suddenly go south?
Nothing But Fawns
When is having more deer in the woods a problem? When they're all only six months old during the open hunting season, that's when.
In the coming years these animals will grow antlers and some will remain antlerless, but for now button bucks and their sisters will be roaming through the woods in force, giving us nothing much to see but them and their mothers.
One positive perspective is that since so many bucks did their jobs the previous fall, all we have to do is find them. Maybe the best part is the fact that in another year or two, there will be more adult does around to come into estrous, and with the numbers of females in heat, many bucks will be more visible.
But if you've been seeing too many does with fawns this year, with that comes more immature deer. The trouble is that usually by this point in time the trail cam cards are full of bucks with good sets of antlers, completely clear of velvet and ready to fight.
That's not going to be the case in a herd full of kids.
Even us hardened deer hunting veterans like to see fawns in the spring, but this is a sign that the season will be ripe with deer you could scare the spots off. Unfortunately, nature thereby dictates another factor.
Lots and Lots of Coyotes
It goes without saying that the better the prey animals, the better the predators. Here in western New York, that's the way this year has been. Listening to them howl and prowl the night woods from the front porch is one thing, but wondering how many of the fawns and other animals they are taking is another.
Yes, we like predator hunting, and any hunt that we undertake immediately turns into a predator hunt when we see them. But a high coyote population means that the deer are constantly on the move to avoid them, making them harder to predict and pin down.
Now with family pictures like the one above showing up on cams, we have to wonder how badly it will affect the traditional hunting season.
It also makes carrying my 9mm pistol mandatory when I'm checking trail cameras and scouting.
When the Neighbor Puts His Stand 10 Yards from Your Property Line
Archery season comes quick, and as long as you put your treestand on your own side of the property line, there's really nothing to be said (other than some cuss words inappropriate for this platform). But putting up a ladder stand a measly 10 yards from the property line, facing the next property, means you're basically hunting your neighbor's land, plain and simple.
Maybe the best part is that this path is the one that I walk to get to my trail cameras and my own stands, meaning that at some point I'll have to pass some dude who's sitting there and possibly mess up his hunt.
And I won't care a bit because none of my treestands are situated in such an impossibly impolite way.
It's one of the oldest arguments among hunters: is he in the right or wrong to do this? Let the head butting begin!
Haven't Seen a Wild Turkey Since April
The trouble with fall turkey season is the fact that it coincides with so many other fall seasons: pheasant season, migratory bird hunting season (Canada goose, woodcock, ducks), and even bowhunting season for deer or elk. In all honesty, some years a choice has to be made. Sometimes the turkeys have the target in the fall, sometimes they don't.
The problem is that they were around all spring and into the early summer, but have since disappeared, sort of. I do see them down the road, crossing the pavement with the year's new poults. I see them roosted in trees on another neighbor's property. And I see them in the field across the parking lot of the gas station I frequent.
It's just that they stopped showing themselves on my hunting property. Since I paid extra for a turkey permit this year, I want to use it, I just don't want to get skunked.
Will the Deer Please Stop Getting Run Over?
This young buck with a good future ended up (cringe) having his antlers made into a dream catcher. That's just not right. I've been seeing dead deer everywhere, and it's got to stop. Bucks, bucks in velvet, does, and yes, lots of fawns.
Deer vehicle collisions are a fact of life in states with a solid population of whitetail deer, but when the antlers go with them it's a tragedy.
In many states folks can salvage roadkill to keep it from going to waste, but I think we'd all like to get our deer the old fashioned way: by hunting it.
Maybe the only good thing about it is that the scavengers have plenty to eat without chasing it down.
The Grouse Are Getting Bold
If all of the ruffed grouse are going to act this way, then they're going to get shot, especially when they reach out and peck you. There are several scientific reasons for this sort of "friendly grouse syndrome," including the proximity to breeding season, prevalence of immature birds, and territorial displays. But it still seems awfully weird when it happens.
Turkey hunters and deer hunters can recount many stories of grouse that just wouldn't leave them alone, and while they may not admit it, that particular bird sometimes came home with them and lined their favorite cast iron skillet.
The better translation for all of this foresight: How can we take a great hunting season and turn it into a lousy one? Take all the things we never thought could happen, multiply that by all the things that did happen, and factor in your outlook on it all. It's a wonder how we ever finish successfully.
Get past all of the things that you cannot control, and you'll have a better chance at pulling your hunting season out of the frying pan. It's just that we can't promise you that you won't get at least a little burned.
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